Monday, July 23, 2007

Restored Saturn V On Display At JSC

July 20th - the day we first landed on the moon - should be a national holiday to both celebrate a magnificent achievement and reflect on what may be accomplished if we allow ourselves to follow a dream.

Friday, July 20th marked 38 years from that historic day. Many of you were not yet born, and I am dismayed to find that many do not believe it even happened.

But I do. I've seen the mighty Saturns standing on the pad bathed in light as in the photo above. I stood just 3.5 miles (5.6 kilometers) from the launch complex on a dark, muggy night. I watched Apollo 17 light up the night like a sun. I've felt its awesome power go through my body and I've heard its thunderous roar. No films can possibly convey the experience. I've read that the Saturn V had the explosive power of a small nuclear weapon. I believe it.

Yet all the power of a Saturn V was exquisitely controlled; harnessed by Man to achieve a dream. It may be that Apollo was the only time that humanity directed so much effort towards something other than finding better ways to kill. Perhaps thats why I feel an almost spiritual affinity for the space program.

There are three Saturn V's left in the world, and each deserves to be preserved as examples of mankind's greatest achievements. The remaining vehicles are located at Johnson Space Center in Texas, Kennedy Space Center in Florida, and the U.S. Space and Rocket Center in Alabama. For years, all these Saturns were exposed to the elements, becoming home to various wildlife and deteriorating rapidly. The first to be restored was KSC, and it now resides in the very impressive Apollo-Saturn V Center. On Friday, the restored Saturn in Texas went on public display. It's basically sitting in a big barn (see photo above), but at least it's protected from the weather. Even laying on its side, it's impressive as hell.

By the way, the last Saturn V in Alabama is currently under restoration, wrapped in plastic until the Davidson Saturn V Center, its new home, is ready in January 2008. This is a privately funded effort and they need your donations!

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